Workingmums Annual Survey 2018

2,492 people responded to our 2018 survey

Key demographics of the Workingmums Survey respondents:

Woman working at the kitchen table on a laptop whilst baby and man look on


  • 97% are women
  • 35% are aged between 25-34 years old, 48% are between 35-44 years old, and 17% are either below 24 or 45 and above.
  • 22.5% of women earn more than their partners (up from 17% in 2016) and 18% are the main breadwinner because they are a single parent.
  • The most common individual earning bracket is between £0k and £20k per year in their last job (44%) with 21% earning between £20k and £30k per year and 35% earned above £30k per year.
  • 75% have more than 10 years work experience, with 49% having more than 15 years experience.
  • 40% are management level or above, with 33% having had more than 5 years management experience.

Flexible Working - Stats

Working mums

60% of those working returned to the same job they were in before maternity leave, whilst 40% returned to a new job after their last period off work.

73% of those working had 12 months or less off work before returning. 25% took between 1-6 months off, and 48% took 7-12 months off. 11% had more than 2 years away from working.

Generally women are returning to work for financial reasons (73%), although 28% wanted to continue their career path, 9% wanted a new challenge, and 5% returned to work because their children started school.

60% returned to the same job they were in before maternity leave/a period of time off work.

Flexible Working

Of those mums who are already working flexibly, there is a 50-50 split between those who have a formal agreement, and those who have an informal agreement.

Most flexible working mums feel that they do have enough flexibility (60%), but 49% agree that flexible working has affected their career progression – and 54% of those working part time feel that their working pattern means they miss out on opportunities for career progression such as training. Only 7% work on a job share basis – which is often touted as a good route for flexible workers to achieve career progression.

42% feel that their flexible working is not perceived positively by their colleagues, and 27% feel discriminated against in their workplace due to their flexible working arrangement.

65% agree that they have to work harder to prove themselves in the workplace, to overcome unconscious bias, and 56% worry about their flexible working being taken away.

59% of mums say their partner doesn’t work flexibly.

Negative Impacts of Flexible Working

Working at home

Does working at home improve work-life balance? 16% of those who work mainly at home agree that it does, whilst 7% think that they end up working more than they would if they were in a setting outside of home.

6% of homeworkers feel left out of office decisions.

Who are we working for?

7% work on a job share basis. 25% work for an SME, and 33% work for a company with more than 250 employees. 29% work in the public sector, and 6% are self employed.

39% are earning less (full time salary equivalent) than they did before having children – 34% earn the same rate and only 27% have progressed in their salaries.

Caring & Domestic Responsibilities

57% of mums say that they tend to take on more of the day to day child-caring responsibilities – an additional 16% are single parents. Only 23% share it equally.

51% of mums say they tend to do more of the housework than their partners.

11% have other caring responsibilities, eg elder care. Of these, 68% state that their employers are not supportive of the caring demands on them.


Rising costs: 33% pay nothing for childcare, 8% pay up to £100 per month, 12% between £100 and £250 per month. 18% between £250 and £500 per month and 29% pay over £500 per month (up from 23% in 2016). 50% make use of grandparents to reduce their childcare costs.

45% say that their childcare arrangements are not flexible enough for their needs.

44% struggle with after school and holiday childcare.

Of those not currently working, 56% say that childcare costs are making it difficult for them to return to work (up from 51% in 2017)

Respondents on maternity leave or career breaks

Most of our respondents who are not working were last in paid employment in the last 12 months (42%).

24% left work to have children and be a stay at home mum/dad (down 11% on 2016 figures – which may suggest that more people are finding they need to work for financial reasons – although other reasons could be at play.

11% were made redundant, 5% left because their request for flexible working was denied, 6% wanted a change and 7% found juggling it all too hard. 28% are currently on parental leave.

77% of those currently on parental leave want to return to work on a part time basis.

36% of mums currently on parental leave have not yet discussed flexible working upon their return to work.

15% had already had their request refused on a range of grounds;

  • The additional costs will impose a burden. (19%)
  • Agreeing to the request will have a detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand. (41%)
  • There were already planned structural changes (13%).
  • Inability to re-organise work among existing staff. (28%)
  • There is insufficient work during the periods the employee proposes to work.(3%)
  • 34% of those who’s request had been refused felt that the refusal was not justified, but 19% have not appealed the decision.
  • 27% say that the flexible working refusal means they will not return to their former job after maternity leave, and a further 13% are not yet sure.

Shared Parental Leave

35% of respondents eligible for Shared Parental Leave would consider it.

Some 40% of those who wouldn’t take it said it would not make sense financially. However, 30% of these said enhancing Shared Parental Pay (SPP) could make a difference to their decision.

Other reasons given for not sharing leave:

  • 24% of mums didn’t want to share their leave
  • 20% were worried their partner’s career would suffer
  • 10% didn’t know enough about Shared Parental Leave
  • 9% think that the legislation is too complicated
  • Of those who would consider it, 57% of mums would take more leave than their partner.

What factors make a family friendly company?

We asked all parents, working or not, what factors our users thought made a ‘family friendly company’.

Offering flexible hours for full time jobs was rated highest at 88%, followed by offering more flexibility during school holidays (75%); allowing holiday days to be taken at short notice to deal with sick children etc (75%); allowing regular work at home (72%); offering part time jobs (70%); helping with childcare (64%); offering enhanced maternity/paternity/parental pay (53%). Networking, support groups and parenting courses were not considered important to most.

Starting a business

62% have considered setting up their own business. The biggest reason by far given for considering starting a business or franchise is the need for greater flexibility and more control – 39% said this. Others reasons given were wanting to be their own boss (12%) and that they had always wanted to set up their own business (16%). 13% were already in the early stages of setting up and 9% were working on a business plan. Access to funding was seen as the biggest challenge.


67% of women were interested in retraining. 20% have retrained in the last 12 months. 77% said they would be more likely to retrain if courses were more flexible.

Mcdonalds Survey Sponsor

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